Lindsey Cheek Wilmington, NC Home White Kitchen with Teal Tile and Banquet Seating
Credit: Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

For anyone who has renovated a bathroom or kitchen, the question has inevitably come up: Do all of my fixtures and hardware need to match? Even homeowners who consider themselves pretty savvy designers can be stumped by picking out metal finishes. The old-fashioned rule that says you shouldn't mix silver and gold (the same one we were told about jewelry) is simply that: old-fashioned. A quick scroll through popular Pinterest kitchens would show you that mixing metals not only looks okay, but can look extremely chic. However, once you open yourself up to mixed metals, it can still be tricky to decide which metals to use, and where.

Because they're able to make a big impact on a space, it isn't wrong to put such an emphasis on the metals you use in your home; however, incorporating multiple finishes into a space doesn't have to be as challenging as you may think. There are lots of tips out there for making it work, but there's one rule of thumb we always follow when it comes to mixing metals: Don't mix two metals in the same color family. Pick either shiny chrome or satin nickel—the two are similar in color but actually have different undertones and won't create a cohesive space when used side-by-side. Ditto with aged brass and shiny gold. When it comes to mixing metals, you want the variety to be obvious and look intentional—when it is, the results are beautiful. When you use two metals in one space that almost match, it can give off the appearance that you weren't able to find one of your fixtures in the right finish, or didn't notice the difference yourself.

There are a few other simple tips key to nailing the mixed-metal look: Choose two, maybe three metals that complement one another. One should be the dominant, more pervasive finish throughout the space (think: your cabinet hardware and light fixtures). The second can be an accent (think: your mirrors or faucets). Be sure to use the dominant finish not just on the more prominent features, but on more elements throughout the space. Your eye will follow the similar finish throughout, creating a balance for whatever other finish(es) you decide to add in.

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Chrome, nickel, bronze, and brass are all popular metal finishes, but if you're looking for another finish that's easy to add to the mix, both black and glass can serve as neutrals in almost any space. If you're wary of combining silver with your brass, or vice versa, one of these neutral finishes can add a more modern touch to a completely matchy-matchy room.